Taiwan Backers Link F-16s to U.S. Economic Growth
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI, Taiwan- Taiwan continues to push the U.S. to release new F-16C/Ds despite U.S. President Barack Obama's approval of an upgrade for 146 older F-16A/B fighters in September, along with the active electronically scanned array radar. Now Taiwan officials and supporters are pointing to a new Oct. 24 report commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) to further push for a release.
Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, and Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI) conducted the analysis.
"Our analysis reveals bleak outcomes for both the defense industry and the economy as a whole if the budget sequestration trigger is pulled and $1 trillion is cut from defense," Fuller said.
"Dr. Fuller and EMSI's study shows the dramatic and devastating impact these cuts would have not only on our industry but on the economy at large," AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said.
"We cannot add .6 percent to the current 9.1 percent rate of unemployment. It would devastate the economy and the defense industrial base and undermine the national security of our country," she said.
The report does not mention Taiwan or F-16 fighter production, but it does conclude from an overall analysis that 1 million U.S. jobs would be at risk and the gross domestic product could be lowered by 25 percent for 2013 if the U.S. defense budget sustained the current cuts being proposed.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, issued a special commentary in response to the release of the report, which hinges the sale of F-16C/Ds to saving the U.S. economy.
"The impending financial tsunami to hit the defense and aerospace sector comes at a time when the Taiwan government seeks to procure 66 replacement F-16C/D fighters for its aging fighter fleet - a purchase that would result in a gross investment of almost $9 billion into the American economy and which would support over 16,000 jobs in the defense and aerospace sector," Hammond-Chambers said.
He said the sale would represent a significant economic boost for states such as Ohio and Florida, where unemployment stands at 8.6 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. Other states hit by the F-16 denial are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Texas and Utah.
Hammond-Chambers argues that the Obama administration must choose between U.S. economic security and placating China, which claims Taiwan as a province.
"Yet the Obama administration has not moved forward on this issue due to concerns over China's sensitivities," he said. "The US-Taiwan Business Council believes that the U.S. government should be evaluating the F-16C/D sale based on the needs of Taiwan and on its significant beneficial impact on the U.S. economy, not on China's foreign policy priorities."